Pulsating neon lights, bouncing bass beats, and frustrating spiked pits are all par for the course in XYLA Entertainment’s platform racer Rush Bros. Armed with an arsenal of over forty levels, local and online multiplayer, and the ability to race to your own custom playlists, Rush Bros aims to please players looking for adrenaline-fueled racing fun. However, beneath the neon-trimmed exterior, Rush Bros ultimately falls short; leaving players asking for more.
Rush Bros is all about style and speed. The game’s two dimensional platforming is accentuated by the vibrant neon colors and thumping soundtrack of each level, which makes racing through each stage feel like a hybrid of Super Meat Boy and Tron. The fusion of classic platforming and the new-age house music audio/visuals is Rush Bros’ greatest strength, as the game’s unique visuals help distract from somewhat stale platforming.
Players will spend their time with Rush Bros navigating through myriad stages racing, leaping and collecting various keys. Each level presents its own set of challenges, and consecutive stages do a great job of increasing the prior level’s difficulty. Buzz saw traps and lasers are commonplace in Rush Bros and players should be prepared to die often.
While frequent deaths are often easy to chalk up to an unresponsive game, this is not the case in Rush Bros. The game’s controls are solid, and inputs are executed without and lag. Having such tight controls makes playing through Rush Bros even more frustrating; however, as many of the game’s stages seem to have hazards placed in locations that are simply meant to make death unavoidable. While this may not seem unfair in theory, upon dying in Rush Bros the player immediately respawns, often mere inches away from the spike or trap that last caused their demise. Should respawning have included a second of invulnerability, this would not be an issue, but it is all too often that players will die, respawn, and immediately move forward to be killed in the exact same way as before.
Frustrating deaths are not the only problem to be found in Rush Bros. While many of the levels in the game feature different color pallets and backgrounds, ultimately each stage begins to feel repetitive. There simply isn’t enough variety to be found in Rush Bros to guarantee players keep coming back for more. While the game’s great aesthetic and online racing capabilities will certainly draw many players in, the experience provided in Rush Bros begins to feel empty quick.
What should have been Rush Bros greatest asset – the ability to import custom playlists – ultimately hurts the game in the long run. Adding your own music is a great idea in theory, especially when considering the fact that each level’s traps can react differently according to the song’s beat, but when put into practice, the custom music addition feels like it was left unfinished. Sure, jamming out to your favorite band while tearing through dozens of levels feels great, but after the first handful of stages it becomes clear that the differences between how the levels react to different tunes is hardly noticeable.
That being said, the experience provided by the game’s own playlists will generally offer more than any player’s own personal music library would anyway. Each song on the Rush Bros default playlist fits the atmosphere created by the game’s neon visuals perfectly. While none of the songs are guaranteed unforgettable jams, they work wonders to make each stage feel alive.
All in all, Rush Bros’ sleek neon exterior and wonderfully drawn backgrounds shine brighter than its repetitive platforming. In a game where speed is everything, the hazard placement in many of Rush Bros’ stages seems arbitrary, if not downright unfair. While the option to add custom playlists and have them alter level layouts is nice, it ultimately falls short as the game’s inspired soundtrack simply does a better job. While it is in no way perfect, Rush Bros handles well and will provide those who are looking for a flashy platformer an afternoon or two of entertainment. Those looking for a game with more meat on its bones may feel unfulfilled by Rush Bros, as despite its generous amount of levels, the game never capitalizes on its potential
*The author recieved Rush Bros. courtesy of the developers. Rush Bros. is available for both PC and Mac systems. The PC version was used for this review.
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